Colorado passes bill to avoid urban-rural divide on EV chargers
- Colorado lawmakers approved legislation this month to grow the state's electric vehicle charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, by expanding the ways an electrification grant program can be utilized.
- Colorado's EV Grant Fund was established in 2009 to provide funds to local governments to install chargers, and operates under the Charge Ahead Colorado name. The new legislation, HB 1198, authorizes the Colorado Energy Office to direct more funds to areas where station revenues likely would not defray costs.
- Colorado has other initiatives working to grow EV adoption: the state's Air Quality Control Commission will launch a regulatory rulemaking in May, to determine if the state signs on to California's zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) standards.
Colorado wants to get almost a million EVs on its roads in the next two decades, and the state is tackling that on several fronts. New legislation expanding how Charge Ahead helps fund stations is one part, with a particular focus on making sure rural areas are not left behind in the transition.
If EV charging infrastructure is "only driven by the private sector, the charging stations end up in urban areas, places where people have EVs already," Jacob Smith, executive director of Colorado Communities for Climate Action, told Utility Dive.
That's similar to what happened with broadband internet service, said Smith, before measures were put in place to ensure more consumers had access. "This bill is part of a broader effort to make sure we don't have another rural-urban divide," said Smith.
The measure authorizes the Colorado Energy Office to prioritize grants based on certain criteria, such as areas with anticipated low station revenues, and allows for grants to cover operating costs of EV charging stations in addition to installation.
Colorado lawmakers are considering other legislation addressing EVs, said Smith, including a bill to allow utilities to ratebase charging stations. It has largely the same goal as the bill recently passed: "Let's make sure we can get charging infrastructure to every part of the state," said Smith.
"We want to enable electric vehicles to spread much more quickly and widely," said Smith. "We know how effective they are for consumers when people have access to the right vehicles. The goal here is to make sure every part of Colorado has access."
The state has been aggressive on EV policy. Colorado has a goal to get 940,000 EVs on the road by 2040 and offers a $5,000 tax credit towards purchases. Colorado is also working with seven other western states to develop more public charging and make regional travel more accessible to EV drivers.
Colorado's previous governor, John Hickenlooper, D, last year issued an executive order requiring the state to adopt California's aggressive vehicle emission standards. Current Gov. Jared Polis, D, in January directed the state's Department of Public Health and Environment to establish a Zero Emission Vehicle policy, and that rule is supposed to be proposed to the the Air Quality Control Commission by May, for possible adoption by October 30, 2019.
HB 1198 was sent to Polis for approval on April 9. There is "no reason to think it won't become law," said Smith.
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